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Mass groups told to resist provocation
Indah Setiawati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Ethnic-based organizations have urged the Jakarta administration to establish a communication forum to improve tolerance and understanding among mass organizations and groups in the city.
“I suggest we launch a permanent forum that can accommodate all ethnic-based organizations in the capital. We hope we can hold meetings more frequently in the future,” said Kaharbin Syah, the secretary-general of Taman Iskandar Muda, an organization for Acehnese living in the capital.
Kahar was among several representatives of mass organizations invited to City Hall by the Jakarta administration on Friday night to discuss taking measures to anticipate and prevent further acts of violence between the groups in the capital.
Tensions among ethnic and religious groups in the capital and in Greater Jakarta have boiled over in recent months, resulting in several fatal clashes.
The latest deadly clash broke out between two ethnic gangs in front of the South Jakarta District Court on Jl. Ampera Raya, South Jakarta, on Wednesday. Three were killed in the incident.
Reports came in Friday night that an Ahmadiyah mosque and several houses in Cisalada, Bogor, had been attacked and set on fire by an unidentified group of people.
An Ahmadi who lives in Kebayoran, South Jakarta, confirmed that the house of a relative that located across from the mosque was under attack.
“My auntie who lives in front of the mosque called and said that stones were being thrown into her house and that she was scared and did not really know what was happening outside,” said the person who requested anonymity.
The Ahmadi said the aunt had hung up at 9:30 p.m. and could not be reached as of 11:30 p.m.
Jakarta Military commander Maj. Gen. Marciano Roman, who was also present at the City Hall meeting, called on residents to resist provocation.
“Please solve problems with dignity or through communication so that long-standing relations do not break apart. Don’t solve problems with violence,” he said.
Among the organizations that attended the gathering were the Betawi Consultative Body (Bamus Betawi), the Islam Defenders Front (FPI), the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the Indonesian Church Communion (PGI) and the Madura Family Union.
There are 394 registered mass organizations and 280 NGOs in the city, according to administration data.
The head of the city administration’s Politics and National Unity Board, Arfan Arkilie, said his office had little control over the mass organizations.
“Over the past five years, we have been able to supervise only 20 percent of the total organizations due to limited human resources,” he said.
City Police chief Insp. Gen. Timur Pradopo urged the organizations and religious leaders to set an example for their members to ignore provocative messages sent via text messages or aired on the TV.
“Remember that we want to have peaceful conditions here. Don’t just accept an invitation to protest an event,” he said as quoted by Antara news agency.